tv First Ladies and the Politics of Fashion CSPAN October 4, 2014 12:00pm-1:06pm EDT
enrichment,ace, for and lightman, entertainment, and coming together. the people who were intended to be the audience were really what we would call the middle class. the programs are very simple. of thenation of speakers day, and a variety of what you might consider lowbrow and highbrow entertainment -- opera, classical music, and probably will we would consider the vaudeville of that day. >> watch all of our events from boulder today at noon eastern on tv and sunday afternoon on c-span3. bluebird -- the herbert hoover national library annette dunlap.
she chronicles the impact fashion had on the image of the women living in the white house and what their wardrobe choices reveal about the time in which they lived. this program runs about an hour. >> well, good afternoon and welcome to the herbert hoover in presidential library museum. my name is tom schwartz. i'm the director. i'm pleased you've joined us for another program celebrating america's first ladies. in the lobby at the ticket desk, you'll find a card which talk about some of our other upcoming events also dealing with our first lady exhibition. we're honored today to have annette dunlap as our speaker. annette was awarded an m.b.a. from washington university at and has more than 30 years experience as a writer, speaker, an entrepreneurial consultant. in her spare time when she's not raising cattle on a 29-acre farm in north carolina, annette
writes books. her first biology was "frank: the story of france it cleveland, america's youngest first lady." in her second book involved a bit about a biography in discovering her father's gambling addiction. her current research brings her to lou henry hoover. she has twice been a recipient of travel grants for scholars. dunlap was featured as scholar for francis cleveland and lou henry hoover on c-span's recent series "america's first ladies." more than a decade has lapsed since there was a biography, so the published research is eagerly awaited. anyone who has had the briefest production to lou knows --
experienced clear vision and goals and a marl inspiring leader. in addition to the lou henry hoover biography, did you know? --annette dunlap is completing two other book projects, charles g. daws to be published in early 2016. following the formal presentation there will be a question and answer period. if you have a question, please raise your hand and do not speak until a microphone is given to you. the microphone will be given to you off. you just flip the little button, look at the green light. that will put it on. after you ask your question, shut it off and pass it back down the isle.
i hope you'll join us -- aisle. i hope you'll join us afterward where the book will be available for purchase and signing. we're pleased that c-span is here today to record the event for wider viewership. i would be especially grateful if everyone would take this moment to silence all electronic devices. we don't want to hear your ring tone. ladies and gentlemen, please welcome annette b. dunlap. [applause] >> thank you very much. great introduction. well, thank you, tom, for the introduction, and i was listening to him, saying who is this person. i guess it's the one who stares down from the mirror. you are the most awesome crowd ever and i speak at much smaller venues and i will have to add
-- admit when the first 10 people showed up, i said, well, five more people have come than i was expecting, so i'm feeling great. then we came down to please raise your hand if there's any available seats. so thank you very, very, much. let's take this afternoon to journey through a history of our first ladies and their fashions, and if you haven't had an opportunity to do so while you're here at the hoover this afternoon, i want to encourage you to see the special first ladies exhibit which i finally had a chance to take in this morning when i was here, and it is really awesome. i have been to the exhibits that are at the national first ladies library in canton, ohio, and also at the museum of american history of the smithsonian in washington, and i'm not plugging for either one of those. but just to let you know on a comparative basis that this is really a delightful and interesting exhibit, and i hope you'll have a chance to take advantage of it.
i have a couple of special thanks i want to make sure go out. one, of course, is to the -- hoover presidential library and museum for giving me the opportunity to the share with you on this topic a few years ago after i wrote -- did research on a book. but also special thanks for the paintings that you will see as part of my presentation are copyrighted by them and they have given me permission to use them in my presentation which therefore allowed this program to be taped by c-span. so my appreciation goes to them. and i want to publicly acknowledge that. then i do want to thank c-span for sending a crew out for taping this and making this program available to a much wider audience.
so thank you all so very, very much. we are interested in what our first ladies wear. there is a quote that says "we look at that the first lady wears and all eyes are on her." that if women are able to copy the designs, then they will do so. so we tend to find as our favorite first ladies those first ladies who were wearing fashion that is possibly we can wear ourselves or make us feel good about ourselves. we always look at clothing. it's interesting, but when you talk to the communications experts, what they will tell you is that the visual component of communication makes up over 70% of everything that we say. and roughly only six or seven% of what we actually goes into communication, so essentially,
we form our impressions of people by our eyes. then we go from there. and i think that's very true in our very visual medium today. we have pictures of our leaders and their spouses all the time, and we take a very careful look at what they wear. we have lots of comments about what they wear, sometimes positive, sometimes not so positive. but i think one of the things that's most interesting is for us to go back in history and realize that we have first ladies whose fashions became popular not only in this country but also in europe when all they had better newspaper descriptions and maybe some pencil sketches. the best way to describe that is with dolly madison. we're in the process of commemorating the anniversary of the war of 1812. one of the stories about dolly, which is something of an you are -- well, the fact that the white
house was burned by the british is not urban legend. but part of the urban legend was that she cut the gilbert stewart painting of george washington out of its frame and rolled it up and tucked it under her skirt as she fled from the white house. that may or may not be actually the truth, but one of the things that seems to be documented truth is that while she was trying to preserve silver and the china and the washington painting, she was also worried about her dresses that she had ordered from france and that were on the ship coming across the atlantic and worried about whether or not they would make it through the british block aid of our shores. the other thing that shad her a little concerned was that madison was going to say when he saw the bill for the duty on those clothes, which presumably was somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,000 in 1814 money. i would say that the woman loved fashion.
dolly is really in a lot of ways our first official first lady. george and martha never lived in washington, in spite of the name of the town. john adams lived in the white house about six months, or i should say abigail lived in the white house for about six months. thomas jefferson was a widower and his daughter helped for a while until she passed away. dolly then stepped in but it's really with james madison that we get the idea of the first lady as a hostess and someone who would invite members of congress and diplomats to come together for teas and other students to get together and chat. we kind of need a dolly in the white house today a little bit because she seemed to be effective at bringing opposing views to bear in the white house and getting them to be nice to each other while in her presence. part of what might have made her very appealing to her predominantly male guests would have been they are style
preferences. which, as you can see, shows a little bit of bosom. and there were several people who really didn't like that very much, one of whom was her predecessor, abigail adams. i thought about putting a picture of abigail up here by means of comparison, because in abigail's portrait of the white house, -- or excuse me -- of the first lady, she's wearing a mod cap, a high-neck dress and a over it, just to make sure that everything is covered. abigail's attitude about what dolly swore is that she looked like a nursing mother. dolly was born in guilford county and it was settled by quakers. dolly was raised as a quaker and when she married james madison
she was excommunicated because he was not a quaker. it is said that she encountered a former fellow quaker friend of hers on the street one day. as those who are part of the quaker tradition know, it was practice for men at that time for men to wear hats as a sign of humility. she looked at her friend and said, friend, where is thigh hat. he looked at her and said, friend, where is thy kerchief. she tried new shoes and jewelry. what she was most familiar with other than the low neckline was her turban which was essentially a silk scarf that she wrapped around her head in a somewhat turkish fashion, and it was so
popular that it was copied not only here but also across europe. i would also add that the europeans had an impact on what we wore as well, because part of the reason for the style of dolly's clothing is that this is what the empress josephine was wearing at that time, and of course we are heavily influenced by french fashion, and the french in general. they had befriended us during the revolutionary war. they were helping us again during the war of 112 and their styles and fashion pretty much dominate american fashion through the 19th century and we'll start to take a look at these when we move forward. the next first lady that we're going to take a look at is angela singleton van buren. angela van buren is actually the daughter-in-law of martin van buren. matter van buren succeeded andy jackson. both were widowers. something of a difference
between jackson and van buren is that van buren had four sons, and the four sons moved in with him to the white house and turned it into their little bachelor pad. maybe not a 21st century bachelor pad. that really might have been said about andy jackson because he kind of liked to let anybody come in whenever, but martin van buren's style was obviously much more mass lynn and -- but unlike jackson who, as i just said, didn't mind having a bunch of crowds in the white house visiting with him, van buren was a little more reticent and reserved and he would have smaller dinner parties and he restricted who would have access to him. after the idea of jacksonian democracy this idea didn't go over so with the american public. van buren's son married abraham. angelica is dolly madison's cousin. angelica is from south carolina.
she had come to visit relatives. dolly, who was still a major force in washington as a hosest and a social queen, did not like this idea of five men running the white house. she arranged for angelica to be introduced to van buren's son. and one of them tell fell in love with her. the two of them got married. as a part of abraham doing diplomat work for her father, they traveled to europe for their honeymoon. it was arranged for angelica to have an audience with queen victoria. angelica was quite taken with the idea of the queen sitting on a thrown with feathers in her hair and she brought that idea back to the united states with her so that when she moved into
the white house to assist her father, she indeed had a throne constructed and sat on it to receive guests. needless to say, between van buren's somewhat hautey attitude and angelica's tendency to want to about royally, we only have one term of martin van buren. all right. so let's go to mary todd lincoln. she is the wife of our 16th president from neighboring illinois or neighboring kentucky, depending on your tendencies. i want to encourage you, if you have -- are going to look at the first ladies exhibit, you're going to see a photograph there of harriet lang johnston. harriet lane johnston was the ward of james buchanan, our only bachelor president, and she served as his hostest. she was very, very popular in washington during the years of
1856 to 1860. it is also said that she helped introduce francis cleveland into the ways of washington when francis married are grover cleveland but i don't want to get ahead of my story. so look at harriet's portrait and look really carefully at that dress. and then keep in mind this dress. it is said that mary todd lincoln saw that dress on harriet lane, liked it so much, that she asked her dress maker to please copy it. this is the dress that mary lincoln wore at lincoln's first inaugural. from the beginning, mary was very concerned about her appearance. it is said that she told her dress maker that the eyes of the american public are going to be upon her and she had to be very, very careful about what she wore. well, indeed, they were -- their eyes were on her but once again,
our somewhat conservative american public didn't like that low neckline. they called her a somewhat weak-minded woman who exposed her bosom to everybody and who was always wearing a garden in her hair, so from the very beginning, the american public was not particularly happy or satisfied with the way she dressed. of course, she didn't help things along, because the white house had sort of been allowed to detheater over the past previous examinations, -- add machinings and so she was able to get congress to appropriate $20,000 for her to rebushish the white house but she ran the bill up to $26,000, just about -- and the bills start coming in just about the time the civil war is getting under way. needless to say, old abe had a few choice words with his wife and he was extremely angry about the fact that she had had this cost overrun, because he said i can't even get congress to appropriate money for blanks p
blankets our soldiers need but now you tell me you've spent additional money on things we don't need. think he was blunter than that, but he got his point across. this is found in the memoirs that lincoln's secretary john hey and john nike lie wrote, that her dresses ran to $27,000 and that she began to hits up republican appointees during the 1864 elections, telling them that if they wanted to keep their positions that her -- if her husband was collected, they needed to contribute to her dress fund. i think today we would call that wardrobe slush fund. but one of the things that had her concern and probably legitimately so was that her husband's re-election in that time of turmoil was not guaranteed and she was terrified
of the possibility of them leaving the white house with her owing that kind of money and her not knowing where their income was going to come from, if, indeed, lincoln was not elected. which brings us to one of my favorite first ladies. francis folsom cleveland. francis or frank as she was known by her family, was 21 years old when she married 49-year-old grover cleveland who was a bachelor when they got married. we're getting ready to celebrate the 150th anniversary of her birth. they married in 1886. there had been rumors when cleveland entered the white house in march of 1885, march being the month when presidents came in at that time before we moved to a january inauguration, that cleveland was engaged and there was all kinds of
speculation about all of the different people he might be engaged to. he and frank had gotten engaged shortly after she graduated from wells college in 1885, and it was something that he decided to keep secret. and part of the reason why he did that is if you ever study anything about cleveland's campaign in 1884, you will see that the story came out about his allegedly fathering a child out of wedlock and there is a famous political cartoon that is published after cleveland gets elected and it goes "ma, ma, pa." --where's my pa." and the answer is "gone to the white house, ha, ha, ha." but cleveland knew that what the press could do and in a very protective and in some respects a fatherly way, it was his desire to keep frank protected from the press until the absolute last minute.
some of that was helped along by the fact that frank and her mother and her cousin traveled to europe in october of 1885 in order for frank to do a european tour, which was somewhat happening among college-educated women of that day, but it also gave her the opportunity to purchase her truceo, much of which was purchased in france from french dress makers, including worth. worth had moved to paris and opened a shop there. his clothing was highly in demand. part of the reason is he was very interested and very good at looking at fabric and learning how to match up fabric piece toss get a seamless look from one fabric piece to another, but also the kind of cut and color that he chose with his clothing. one of the things that worth was also presumably responsible for and we'll get to a little more of that story in just a minute, was a contraption that women wore on the back of their clothing known as a bustle. the way that i like to describe
a bustle is look at one of those old style catcher mitts -- excuse me -- catcher mambings. -- masks. not the ones now with the rim across here but when it was basically a wire cage across the catcher's face. consider that -- consider that on somebody's back side. the reason why designers liked the bustle; because guess what, more fabric, yes, so it was more money for them. the word got out aboutle cleveland's engaged to this young francis folsom about the time they were rurching from europe at the end of may in 1886. the original plan was for them to marry at her grandfather's farm in folsomdale, new york. it would have been her father's father. francis' father was killed when francis had just turned 11 years old, but the grandfather had passed away while the foal somes were en route. it was a throw-together affair
put together by cleveland's sister rose who had abouted as his hostess for the first season. well, when the public gets hold of this absolutely statuesque blue-eyed, brown-haired beauty, they cannot get enough of her. so in spite of all of the clevelands' efforts to try to keep the press at bay, they were hounded even to their honeymoon spot. francis became an overnight fashion sensation, and again we're still somewhat in the dolly mad ison time frame. the only new communication is the telegraph, so we're looking at people being able to get a visual of this will bottom and -- woman and do pencil sketches and write verbal descriptions of what she is wearing. overnight across the country people have fallen in love with her and imstate her style. one of the things they wanted to imitate was her hairstyle, which
they called a la cleveland. it was curled up in front. she had it piled high on her head in the back. she actually had it trimmed a little bit at the nape. women were going in and asking for that particular style. now, back to the bustle. the story about the bustle, which i do have in my book, but i've kind of decided maybe after revisiting it, it might be a bit of an urban legend but it is still a nice one. it was a slow news day in the summer in washington when all of congress was adjourned and the clevelands had gone on their summer vacation. and a newspaper reporter from the atlanta paper was sitting around with his buddies saying, we need something that's going to sell papers. they came up with the idea about, you know what, something about mrs. cleveland always sells. let's report that the she quit wearing the bus . so they got the story out that she had quit wearing the bustle. she comes back, goes to a
department store with a friend of hers and goes up to the sales clerk and said "i'd like to see some bustles, please." and the clerk said we've moved them to the basement ever since you quit wearing them. if you want to see one we'll go down and get one for you to look at. she said, well, you know what, if they said i've stopped wearing the bustle, i guess i have. they took them out and went to her dress maker and had them altered. this is frank in the second administration. the clevelands are the only presidential couple to serve two nonconsecutive terms. frank married grover for the first term, 1885 to 1889. they won the popular vote in the 1888 election but cleveland lost the state of new york, the state in which he had been the governor but lost the electoral vote.
thet get back into the white house in 1893. by that time, as you can see from this photograph, frank has put on a little bit of weight. she has already had one child. she is expecting her second child when cleveland is inaugurated. that daughter ester is the only presidential child to be born in the white house. she would have a third child while they were still in the white house and she was expecting their fourth child when she left. so obviously, her figure changed a little bit over the years. frank was also criticized for wearing sleeveless and a low neckline. it's interesting where the bulk of the criticism came from. it came from the women's christian temprance union headed by a woman by the name of mary willard, the aunt of catherine willard who was frank's aunt at college.
it was apparently close enough to keep the wctu off frank about her clothing styles. which is why i particularly appreciate the dress that frank decided to wear for her portrait. it's almost a little bit like i'm going to wear what i'm going to wear. so she is immortalized for us in a sleeveless low neck-line gown. let's go to grace coolidge. the styles by this time, you can see, we have gotten what we now call the flapper era. but if you've been looking at the clothing, you'll notice there's a lot more to the flapper area than being just a flapper. one of the things that changes with this type of clothing is
it's more straight line. almost a little bit boyish or androgynous in look. grace, a petite woman, fit these styles perfectly. she was considered a fashion plate from the very beginning. some of the other things you see is they're starting to use less fabric. we are in some respects the tayloring is very different. -- tailoring is very different. president coolidge was known as silent cal but also tight-fisted cal. he was a penny pincher. he would chain to the white house staff if they went over budget on meals that were prepared for him, because the president and his family have to pay out of their own pockets for the meals that are exclusively for them. but calvin coolage had one his
-- extravagence. and he would select clothes and hats for her. we don't see too much on the political side with regard to grace coolidge. one of the things that makes her interested as we start to move forward beginning with our next first lady which is mrs. hoover, is that she really is in my opinion what i would call our last traditional first lady in that her best accomplishment was to get congressional appropriations to get a major remodeling of the white house, which had not done since the theodore roosevelt administration. this is another picture of grace in a different type of style. she absolutely loved animals. she had a pet dog. by the way, prohibitings had already gone into effect at this point. she wasn't a strong proponent of prohibition, although we don't have any record of her serving alcohol in the white house.
but the name of her doctor is after a mixed drink called rob roy. and she has rob roy in her official portrait, too. and coolidge, for as much as he loved how his wife dressed, was a little uncomfortable with red, which is a power color. he said, why didn't you wear a white dress and let the dog be painted red? which now brings us to lou henry hoover. i put her in the category of our truly first modern first ladies because you know that she was extremely independent. she had strong leadership characteristics, all the things that tom said about her in the introduction.
and we see this also in terms of her clothing choices. but one of the things that is not remembered about lou, which i think is kind of sad, is that liu was considered one of the best -- lou was considered one of the best dressed women in washington, d.c. i think we sometimes forget that -- hoover came back from his relief work in europe to serve under the wilson administration in 1917 and he was pretty much here serving one president or another until he became president himself in st 28. -- in 1928 and entered the white house in 1929. so lou was very much in the washington social circle to the extent that she wasn't in california or working with her girl scouts. but lou was considered to be a tremendous style icon, emulated and believed to be one of the best-dressed women in washington. she is also, when she became first lady, one of the first -- excuse me -- the first lady to be photographed for vogue
magazine and vogue does a photo shoot on every first lady now. this is one of our day dresses. we can see that that soft dressing style began to show with grace coolidge is still dominating today -- when she is first lady. these are some photographs -- and i want to give a special appreciation to mar cuss eckheart here on the staff of the hoover, who went up into storage and pulled two dresses for me so i could show you some of the detail of the things that lou wore. lou has an exquisite eye for style and color. these are things that sometimes are not remembered. this particular dress is actually in gold beads -- excuse me -- glass beads and gold trim, and it is the work -- you can see with this close-up. this is very careful close hand embroidery work. the other dress, which i just
absolutely love almost to the point where i wish i could have one for myself. see what i said, we will emulate our first ladies if we see something we like -- is the dress that is known as the fan dress. and this dress is actually made of silver metallic thread with the purple threads waving through it to create the fans and then you have the -- these are red and blue stones that are into the bottom. and that is a close-up of the hem. and you can see the dale -- hem. you can see the detail and we'ving in that dress. that's a close-up to have fabric where you can see the design between the silver threads and the purple. the dress that i showed earlier -- let me back up real quick on that. ok. this is a scarf that was from a gold and silver satin dress that
lou wore. she actually wore it before she became first lady, but we have a hand-written note in our archives that said that it was her favorite dress to wear to receptions in the white house. so i think it's important for us to know that, you know, lou in addition to all her many, many other accomplishments, had a tremendous eye for color and style. a lot of times she sketched the dresses she wanted. she was an incredible artist. you can see that in terms of the high quality of the clothing she selected and in her color choices. this gown is muslin, made of cotton. and because this is a black-and-white photo and not a close-up, there are actually blue flowers embroidered in it. lou wore this, as far as i'm able to tell, to a reception that was held for the cabinet departments of labor and
agriculture in february of 1932. it raised an incredible amount of eyebrows. because washington fashion was all aghast with the fact that she wasn't wearing satin, she wasn't wearing velvet, they wasn't -- she wasn't wearing bro kade. she's wearing cotton. but the idea behind her wearing cotton was to promote the cotton industry, because any of you that are in agriculture and you heard that i'm also in agriculture, you know that the prices that farmers were getting for their crops at that time were not good and they were not able to earn a living wage. and lou used this dress as a way to encourage americans to purchase more cotton garmets and use more cotton to be able to improve the cotton market for the farmers.
there were several write-ups in the paper about her promoting that. what we begin to see with grace coolidge and carried forward by lou hoover, is the troned move away from buying paris fashions, a move away from buying high fashion. the last first ladies was edith wilson to wear something made in paris. we pentagon see in grace and again in lou an interest in buying american both in terms of where the fabric is made and also who is doing the dress designing. so we're going to fast forward to maimy eisenhower, the other iowa first lady. this is a portrait of maimy. it's also hanging in the exhibit and the lights on here are not letting that pink show through. but this is in her signature
maimy pink. there are lots of goins of her wearing low necklines and sleeveless. i can't find any criticism of her on that. but when maimy came into office, the american public really fell in love with her. after the turmoil of world war the and the korean war when there was a sense that maybe the country could go back to some level of maimee dressed like they did. she had trouble with her hair so she had to have the bangs. it was just people felt like they could relate and connect with her. i think one of the reasons why that was the case is because the
1952 election was the very first time that either political party specifically used the wife of the presidential candidate and in this particular case, the wife of the vice presidential candidate as well, so that would have been pat nixon, but they targeted the women vote specifically. it probably also helped that add lay stephenson was a bachelor and he was eisenhower's running mate. just a couple of interesting comments about this dress. this dress is made from the house of netty rosen steen. netty rosenstein was an useryian immigrant. she developed her own fashion house, thought about going out of business about 1931, but her dress designs were so desired that some of the major high-end department stores such as approached her and said would you design lines for us, so she went back into business. for you women who have heard of
the little black dress, you can blame or thank netty for that. she came up with the idea that every woman needed to have a little black dress in her closet. one of the things about this dress is that it was designed for mrs. eisenhower by a steam stress who joined her sister in law -- actually, she joined her sister in law in making clothes before she was her sister-in-law and met and married her brother. the other thing you can see is the handbag. the handbag was made by a woman now well known, if you follow fashion, but unknown at the time. the woman's name was judith leiber. she was a hungarian jewish holocaust survivor who married one of eisenhower's troops when
gersenliber came in 1946. leiber came back to this country, got back into what she had been doing -- actually, what saved her life was that she was a seem stress and the germans had put her and her sisters in a job of repairing men's underwear, so that speaks to the condition of what was happening with the germans in the war because this was towards the end of the war, 1944, 1945, but also what saved her life. when she gets to this country, she gets a job with netty rosenstein and if you have followed you'll know that judith eventually established her own house which she sold several years ago. this is another picture of
maimy. one of the things that women really liked about her is she was always very well put together. she had a good eye for simplicity in jewelry, good eye for style and color, just immensey popular first lady. likely would still be remembered as something of a fashion icon if she hasn't been succeeded by, yes, jacqueline kennedy! who was considerably younger than maimy eisenhower and who had no problems buying from the french style houses and a few things were said about it and she realized that she might start looking for an american designer. so she hired oleg cassini, french born, but an american citizen. there were stories that when jack was running for president in 1960, some friends of jackie said to her, you're a little bit too high-tone, too snappy.
women are going to be upset with you because of your hairstyle and the way you dress. and jackie in what is really a very fair question for every first lady to ask is why do people care about my hair? it's my husband who's running for president. but they finally convinced her her hairstyle would have an impact and she said, well, i know what i'll do, i'll wear hats. jackie is known for her impeccable taste in clothing. she had a strong eye for things that make fashion important, for the way a garment is cut from the type of fabric it is made from, from the color photographs. this photograph is jackie on a good will tour which she embarked on with her sister lee in india and pakistan. this was taken when they had toured the grave of gandhi, and
one of the things i thought was interesting about this photo and why i selected it for today is one of the things that i read about her is that she would -- when she -- wand when she and the president or when she alone went on this tour to go overseas that she studied the fashions and the colors of the countries. and so you can see that she is in this particular outfit, she's wearing a white outfit that allows her not to stand out from either the ambassador that she's with, who is the gentleman to her left, and the indian official who is the gentleman to her right, and she just fits in instead of standing out from the group. similarly, this was also taken from the india tour. if you can see her in the middle here, this is actually at a fashion show in india of women
in sewing as a cot damage industry what i thought was very interesting is if you can tell from the dress that the model who's walking across the front here of the photograph, what she's wearing and can see what mrs. kennedy is wearing, you can see a lot of similarities. jackie is blending in with her group, even though we can assume those clothes cost a whole lot more than what was being made by the cottage industry. it is not only her sense of style but her sense of presence that really made her a fashion icon. this particular pictures is taken at the national gallery of art. you may recall that jackie and jack went to france to meet with charles de gaulle, that she was such a sensation over there partly because of her eye for design, but also because she was fluent in french, and so jack kennedy was just so awed by how successful his wife had been that he made the speech where he said "i am the man who accompanied jacqueline kennedy
to paris." but one of the things that jackie did was to talk to this man over here under the paint offing the mona lisa, the minister of arts. this is france's tremendous painting treasure and the idea of it being transported over the ocean and hanging in american galleries required a lot of choreography. one of the things that's interesting is that when the kennedys were in paris and were attending the diplomat dinners there, jackie wore garr mets that were made by french designers. when she came back and they're hosting this event for the unveiling of the event of the unveiling of mona lisa here in this country, this pentagon was made by cassini, who was
considered an american. which gets us to her successor, lady bird johnson. lady bird, much like maimy has the unenviable task to have succeeded jackie keabd. as a result, she too is somewhat forgotten as something who also had an understanding of what she looked good in so i really love lady bird in this red suit. i like the color, the design, i like the cut. i like how comfortable she looks in this. one of the other things that i really like about how comfortable she looks is this picture of her at the ranch. we are starting to see our first ladies appear in photographs in pants. we have seen some of jackie kennedy, but a lot of that was usually if they were out on a boat or in her riding habit. but this particular photograph of lady bird really begins to show that first ladies are allowing themselves to be photographed in more relaxed settings and in a more natural
setting. a lot of lady bird's -- lady bird, as lou hoover, grace coolidge, maimy eisenhower, stuck primarily with american designers. we are beginning to see our first ladies use names that become better known to the american public and are working with them to get style, style consulting and clothing to help promote the american fashion industry. one woman who tremendously promoted the american fashion industry was betty ford. i think it's important to realize that betty ford's tenure in the white house was relatively short. the fords came in in august of 1974 upon the resignation of richard nixon. ford didn't win a term of his own right, so they were out in
1977. betty ford had been a model. she had worked in the fashion industry in department stores. she had a very innate understanding of what looked good on her and what looked good on others. one of the things that she did that was really important because those of you who are old enough to remember, you will recall that our economy when ford took office was in terrible shape. our interest rates were going from 10% to 11% to 12% to 13%. ford attempted this campaign called win, whip inflation now. it didn't whip inflation but it was his effort. betty ford felt that one of the things she could do is make a fashion statement about how you could look great and not spend a lot of money. so she found a designer by the
-- and i hope i get this right. albert caprerra, who designed for a 7th avenue house in manhattan. the price range for his garr -- garmets ranged from $50 to $300. and these are the types of fashions that betty ford bought and that she wore, and so that she could encourage american women also to buy american. the american fashion industry totally loved her and the parsons school of design gave her an award in appreciation for all that she was doing to promote american fashion. many of you, if you're my age or older will remember burnt orange as one of the colors of the time. i couldn't find something for her in lime green, but it's there. but i absolutely love this black and white gown. again, just her eye for fashion and color and what makes her look good, she was a stunning woman with a great eye for clothing. so we get to nancy reagan and i would have loved to have had
some photo oaths of her in her gowns and wasn't able to locate some we could use today. but fortunately i'm able to get this one. nancy loved red. it became known as nancy reagan red. i did a program here for another group. we were actually looking at items in the white house including china, and the lennox company which made the reagan dinner ware set talked about how difficult it was to find that very particular shade of nancy reagan red to be able to do the reagan china and they finally did it. this was a special color and important to her and the one that she looked good in. nancy was also aboved by the american fashion industry and not so loved by the american public, because we thought she was spending way too much money on her clothing. she favored some of the very, very high-end designers such as bill blass. one of the things that she was doing that gained her a lot of criticism is she was accepting
haute couture gowns from various designers, wearing them to an event. she would be photographed in it and she was donating them to museums so that there would be a record of the type of clothing that we had worn during different times in our history. unfortunately, there were those in the american public who felt what she was doing was wrong and there is a letter that she ended up sending out when she received letters of criticism, saying that she was going to stop the practice, but that shelled continue to donate her own garr --garmets, things that she had purchased herself to museums so that examples of clothing from the 18 -- excuse me -- the 1980's would be available in museums. and i don't think that we can by pass hillary clinton, who had made the pants suit a very accessible form of dress for women. hillary, as we know, went
through a lot of struggles with her fashion, and i think part of the application of that was that -- politics of that. she came into the white house hoping that she was going to continue as the confidante and advisor to her husband, because that was the partnership and the relationship that she had ironed out. we are a relatively conservative country in a lot of ways and that was something that the american public wasn't really happy with. we suffered through a lot of stories about hillary with her hair, hillary with her hats, hillary with her color choices but finally somebody somewhere along the way got hold of her and pointed out, hey, you look really good in a pants suit and you look really good in a pants suit when the hem line of the jacket comes below the hips. if you've seen hillary in a dress, you'll notice that she's a little stocky with thick-set legs. so as time went on, and you will see this when she runs for the
senate and in 2008 when she tried to get the presidential nomination, she started to realize what she looked good in. when she felt comfortable with herself, others started feeling comfortable with her. that's the story behind whatever we choose to wear. when her comfortable with the way we look, we communicate that and others become comfortable with us automatically. which kind of gets us to our last first lady which has from the very beginning expressed the fact that she's extremely comfortable with who she is, and that is michelle obama. michelle obama has from the get-go become a tremendous fashion icon. there are all kinds of blogs out there about what she wears. there are blogs about her jewelry choices. there are blogs about what she buys from j. crew. there are blogs about how to dress affordably and look like michelle obama. she was criticized for getting this first official photograph
in a sleeveless dress. michelle obama has really started -- it will be interesting to see what happens with our next first lady, but she has really begun to transform the idea of fashion for women with what we call the high-low dressing. and that's not what you put on your salad. she will wear the very expensive jimmy chew shoes with an outfit from -- jimmy choo shoes with an outfit from j. crew. she'll buy an outfit from one of the up and coming designers. michelle obama has set a lot of fashion styles. it's very clear from the way that she is stive and physically involved and encouraging physical activity, but how she
radiates when at diplomat events or giving a speech, that she understands her look communicates a highly confident woman and a woman who knows the enabling she is creating. even to the point where, allah maimy eisenhower, she has gone to bangs. i want to thank you and i believe we've got some questions, possibly, so i'm going to open the floor. >> so when you return and if and when we have bill as the first husband or first man, will there be anything about bill that you'll be able to add to this presentation?
[laughter] >> yes. the width of his lapels on his suit jackets, the width of his ties, and whether or not his pants are pleated and cuffed. [laughter] thank you. >> you haven't said much about the wigs or hairpieces that they wear. i understand they have as many as 20 that they can wear at any time. do you know much about that? >> now, who are you referring to? the earlier first ladies? >> most of the later ones, i think. >> i will have to say that if that's the case, that's not
anything that i have come across in any of the reading that i've done, so that's new to me. >> ok. well, i kind of believe that some of those are hairpieces and wigs. >> well, they may be. as you know, a first lady cannot get away with a bad hair day. [laughter] >> i have a question. i wondered if you have read the the book "mrs. lincoln's dress maker." >> no, i'm sorry. i have not. >> it's a good read. >> that's what i understand. thank you for suggesting it. >> i have a sense that mrs. obama has helped us to accept
dresses again, and so no matter what level of dress, we can find one now, and there was a whole period of many, many years where it was very, very difficult. what do you think of that? >> yeah. that's a really good observation. i think you are correct. i've already discussed hillary with pants suits. i didn't talk about laura bush, but laura bush really gravitated to pants suits throughout the bush years, so i think you're making a good point. and you're right. if michelle obama is not involved with, say, the lets move type activity or throughout with gardening, you do see her a lot in dresses, whereas i am obviously not partial to dresses myself. i will say that one of my daughters who can wear some of the styles that michelle obama also wears, she wears almost exclusively dresses.
i have noticed that with a lot of other young women. i think it's a great, great point, yes. >> i noticed michelle obama tends to wear sweaters instead of jackets, particularly at the second inauguration, it struck me that she was wearing a sweater that seemed to be, skimp that comes to mind. a small cut. it seems this is a departure for an official event, to wear a sweater instead of a jacket. what is your comment about that? that will bell, her fashion taste. one of the things that is kind of interesting, and this is something i picked up on my reading, is a lot of the reason of women wear some type
female-tailored version of what men wear is in order to feel like they could compete with men in the employment realm. hadn'tg personally, if i up, you mayc'ed have seen me in a sweater. i prefer more feminine dressing myself. i think that is michelle. being feminine. she is softer. she is michelle obama. formally, she is mrs. barack obama. an old 1970's song, i am woman, hear me roar. >> eleanor roosevelt was first lady in the heart of the depression. can you speak a little bit to her fashion? >> it was not much. [laughter]
that really is not fair. , you lookedssed up at her gowns, they were quite beautiful. not lookn why she does all that great really has more to do with we were still in the dropped waistline style, which did not look good on her. she was also an older woman. she had had a lot of children. they were not wearing corsets anymore. wearingnot necessarily a lot of undergarments that could help lift and separate, if you get my drift. [laughter] i think she dressed how she had to and did not have to worry about it -- did not worry about it when she didn't have to.
>> i think that exhausts the questions. let's give around of applause. [applause] be book sales and the signings in the lobby. safe travels. thank you for coming. [crowd murmurs] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] are watching american history tv all weekend, every weekend, on c-span3. to join the conversation, like us on facebook.
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